Monday, April 28, 2008

Here it is Monday- and I'm already Dreaming About Friday

(The tall guy in the back is the Viking King)
United Way Day of Caring and Grow Youngstown were at the Fairgreen Neighborhood Garden planting and making beds for organic produce. Treezers from Treez Please were on hand to help as well. After working in the garden I then had wonderful afternoon listening to Phil Brady read poetry at Barnes and Noble and then headed out for partying in downtown. Cedars was rocking Saturday night as the Sacksville Rhythm and Blues Band and The Eight Balls performed. It was a warm evening, the patio is open again and we danced until we dropped. So naturally, here on this cold and grey Monday morning, I'm already dreaming of next weekend. Next Friday, May 2, promises to be a blast! First dinner at the newly remodeled Cafe Cimmento located at 120 E. Boardman, Youngstown downtown. The food and wine are superb. After dinner I'm going to see the Full Monty at the Oakland Center for the Arts. The play is a musical adaptation of the Academy Award winning film of the same name. This American version takes place in Buffalo, NY. the recession has hit and due to the closing of local steel mills, a group of blue collar workers find themselves out of work and unable to support their families. the unlikely group of friends join together with a money making scheme that just may save (and expose) their rear ends. The book is by Terrence McNally, Score by David Yazbeck. After the show, I'm putting on my dancing shoes again and I'm off to Cedars to hear Matt Palka, singer/songwriter extraordinaire. Show is $5.00 and starts at 11:00 Cedars Time. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring is here - and so is Earth Day

Although April 22nd was officially Earth Day, YSU is doing an Earth Day Celebration today, April 23rd. Hope you can make the celebration between 9:00 at 3:00 PM at the Youngstown State University Campus. While you're there check out the table sponsored by YESS, The Youngstown Environmental Studies Society. Please support their important activities. I also need to thank them for turning me on to this great video of Imogene Heap. It expresses the sorrow I and so many others feel when we think about the destruction of our planet earth.
Also,keep in mind that now Spring has arrived Treez Please and Grow Youngstown are out in the dirt, so contact me at Treez Please ,or via this blog, and come on out and get your hands dirty with us. This coming Saturday at the corner of Fairgreen and Ohio Avenue on the North Side of Youngstown we are preparing the land for planting. We'll be there from 9:00 AM until the early afternoon along with all the good people from the United Way Day Of Helping Project.

My good friend Jean Engle had a letter printed in the Vindicator yesterday. I reprint it here as a further reminder to think about the earth.

This is the day to think about the Earth and how we treat it
Published:Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Earth Day 2008 is the closest we’ve come in the United States to consensus on the Earth’s importance. For the first time, environmental issues are on the airwaves, on the Internet, and in the stores. Even WalMart is using the E-word, and every corporation wants to look green as grass.

That’s all very nice, but how do Earth Day and larger environmental issues play out in our everyday lives? Every flush of the toilet, every flip of the light switch, every trip to the mall, every forkful of food has environmental implications. True, for one person, they’re not large. What’s a couple of gallons of water that, in this part of North America anyway, is relatively plentiful? I only need the light on for an hour — a pound or two of coal at the power plant out of the tons they burn every day. And gas for the car? It’s only a couple of gallons to get to Eastwood and back.

The point, though, is this: our individual choices magnified a billion-fold add up to disaster for the planet. We in the post-industrial nations won’t feel the pain in our own lives for a while. If I read the papers or listen to the news, I’ll know that the Haitians are starving, right in our Caribbean back yard, in part because the price of staples like corn has skyrocketed, now that corn is going into wealthy nations’ gas tanks and not into poor nations’ bellies. I’ll know that the Arctic ice cap is melting rapidly and that the magnificent polar bear is probably doomed. But those of us in relatively privileged nations will be the last left standing, and, while the fate of the polar bear is tragic, there seems to be little we can do to prevent it. Maybe the zoos can keep them going for a while.

So is that all? Do I just shrug and walk away from it? Do I just go fill up the tank and run some errands, buy some more stuff to distract me from the pain I might feel? Maybe. Or maybe I join the millions of people who are finding ways to do things differently, in ways that sustain the environment rather than deplete it. Maybe I change my incandescent light bulbs to low-consumption compact fluorescents; maybe I put up a clothesline — the original solar dryer; maybe I turn lights off when I’m not in the room; maybe I install an on-demand water heater in my house; maybe I plant some new trees in my yard; maybe I ride my bike for short errands and carpool or take a bus to work (and vote for the WRTA levy); maybe I get involved with non-profits like Treez Please and Grow Youngstown that are working to make a difference at the local level. And maybe I send some money to one of the large environmental organizations like Natural Resources Defense Council or World Wildlife Fund that can exercise our collective clout to make changes on a national or even global scale.

For better or for worse, we are here now, being called on to prevent the destruction of our home. It’s all we have, and it’s in grave jeopardy. To borrow from JFK: If not now, when? If not us, who?


Monday, April 14, 2008

CNN Money - The Incredible Shrinking City - Youngstown, OH

CNN's Les Christie was in Youngstown a couple of weeks ago doing a story about Youngstown. The story has been released today. The story focuses on what is deemed by many to be a radical city plan (2010 Plan). When Mr. Christy was in town I drove him around one afternoon. I had hoped that his story would be a positive one about the city. For the most part I believe this is the case. However, I think his story fails to communicate the excitement and overall positive attitude felt by many here and I take issue with his statement that downtown is derelict. There is undoubtedly room for improvement but it is hardly what I would describe as derelict. For your viewing pleasure here is a photo tour of Youngstown.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Books! Books! and More Books!

Many of my readers may have figured out by now that I'm a bibliophile. I love books, and I collect them by the hundreds. I like the way they look, the way they smell,the way they feel, and more importantly what I can learn from them. Okay, I guess I could go on and on about my passion but I'll spare you all that. However, if you share my obsession, let me know, we'll talk.

The reason that I raise the subject of bibliophilia is because my favorite annual event is about to occur. It is the Westminster Presbyterian Church Annual Book Sale. Now mind you, I have been to many book sales of all kinds. I have run the gamut, from garage sales to church sales to school sales to estate sales... Heck, my idea of a perfect date is to go roaming through a bookstore. I know of what I speak here -the Westminster Book sale is unlike any other and not to be missed. This year marks the 52nd year they have had the sale. The folks who organize this event have it fine-tuned let me tell you. Picture it - row after row of tables piled high with books; books underneath tables, books everywhere. There are books throughout not only the church hall, but also the hallways, and the adjacent rooms. They have every subject covered from fiction to non-fiction. There are children's books, and art books, and religious books and philosophy and first editions. Oop! there I go rambling again... What's more, you can walk out of this sale with a box full of books for a reasonable price. Maybe, it is symptomatic of my disease, but just walking in the building makes my heart pump faster. Adrenalin rushes in and the hunt is on!

I highly recommend that if you're a book lover you attend. Of course,many of my fellow bibliophiles are going to be angry at me for letting the cat out of the bag so to speak. There are among the bibliophiles those who do not want others to find out about this sale for fear that someone else will get there before them. Guess this year we will all be getting to the sale early. The sale is April 23, form 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM and on April 24 and 25th from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM. Westminster Presbyterian Church is located at 119 Stadium Drive off Market Street in Boardman, OH.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

15th Anniversary of the Lucasville Prison Uprising


What actually happened at the Lucasville Prison rebellion 15 years ago?
Who really killed Officer Vallandingham?
What was the aftermath?
What happened to the prisoners who brought about the negotiated settlement?
Why are there five men on death row and 25 others with sentences up to life in prison? Whose notion of justice is being served here?

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio opposes capital punishment under all circumstances because it violates the Constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. It is administered arbitrarily and unfairly and fails to deter crime or improve public safety.

More often than not, the quality of a defendant's legal representation determines whether or not he or she will be sentenced to death. Many currently sitting and waiting on death row could not afford a qualified attorney.

Another determining factor is whether or not a prosecutor on a case decides to pursue capital sentencing. Unfortunately, the race of the victim often determines whether or not the prosecutor will do so.

In September 2007, the United States Supreme Court heard Baze v. Rees, a case challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures used in Kentucky. As a consequence there have been no executions since the end of September and there will almost surely not be any until after the court decides the case.

Attorney and activist Staughton Lynd, a resident of Youngstown Ohio, (may be seen in an interview on Democracy Now by clicking on his name) wrote a book called Lucasville: The Untold Story of Prison Uprising,which is an investigation into the events surrounding the 1993 prison uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional facility. In the book he raised serious concerns about the integrity of the legal proceedings subsequent to the event. Excerpts may be read at Prisoner Solidarity.

The 15th anniversary of the Lucasville Prison Uprising is just a few days away, April 11 - April 21. A staged reading of "Lucasville: the Untold Story of a Prison Uprising" will be held on April 11, 12th at 8:00 and the 13th at 5:00 PM in the Spotlight Theater, Bliss Hall, Youngstown State University. The reading is directed by Brandon Martin. The reading is based on the book by Staughton Lynd. Cost is $5.00 ($3.00 for students/no one turned away). A donation will be made to CURE-Ohio. For more information contact Susie Beiersdorfer at (330) 881-1050 or

Your signature on the I Dream a World...End the Death Penalty Petition would also be greatly appreciated. I also urge you to contact Govenor Strickland to halt executions. Thank you.

Turning Technologies on ABC's "Ahead of the Curve"

Turning Technologies was recently spotlighted on ABC's "Ahead of the Curve". See the link below for the segment. Tony Deascentis discussed the device developed by Turning Technologies that allows for digital classroom participation and promises to put an end to boring powerpoint presentations. Turning Technologies is located at the Youngstown Business Incubator in downtown Youngstown.

ABC News - Ahead of the Curve

Turning Technologies was also a 2007 winner on the Weatherhead 100 List for being the fastest growing company in Northeast Ohio.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

News Release - New Downtown Venue

Good Humor Truck

Historical Society Purchases Significant Building in Downtown Youngstown to Create A New Visitor Destination

News Release today from Leann Rich
Manger of Education and External Relations
Mahoning Valley Historical Society
(Links throughout post inserted by D. Weaver).

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Mahoning Valley Historical Society has purchased the historic Harry Burt/Ross Radio Building at 325 West Federal Street in downtown Youngstown and is planning to transform the structure into a new Mahoning Valley History Center. Harry Burt, a famous local confectioner, purchased the building in 1921 and completely remodeled it to operate a candy and ice cream factory, retail store and public dining and assembly rooms. It was
at this location that Burt first produced his patented invention: the
“Good Humor” ice cream bar on a stick.
After Harry Burt’s death in 1926, his family continued to make and sell candy in the building until 1935, when they sold it to James Ross, founder of the Ross Radio Company. Ross Radio has continuously operated at this location ever since. In 2006 the building was recognized by Parade Magazine and the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of eleven most historic places in America.
For more than 40 years, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society has been most readily identifiable as the owner of the Arms Family Museum of Local History, located at 648 Wick Avenue in Youngstown in the former residence of Olive F.A. and Wilford P. Arms. The 1905 Arts and Crafts-style mansion and garage buildings function as a historic house, regional history museum and archives facility.

“The Arms residence is the most significant artifact in our collection
and it is our responsibility to care for it,” says Historical Society
Executive Director H. William (Bill) Lawson. “But, it is also our
responsibility to present the entire history of the Valley. The
residence buildings were designed to be a private home, not a museum,
and we are challenged every time we develop a new exhibit. Because of
space limitations, we are unable to display the vast majority of our
collections; we have little space for educational programs; and our
ability to care for the collections is compromised because we have to
store most of our artifacts away from the museum in spaces with
inadequate climate control.”

To better meet the needs of the community, Historical Society’s Board
and staff members carefully studied several locations in Youngstown’s
central area before deciding in 2007 that the Burt Building was the
ideal location in which to create the new Mahoning Valley History
Center. “This site offers so much,” states Lawson. “First, it is a
historic structure. And, with over 22,000 square feet of available
interior space, it is a great facility to enhance the level of service
we provide to the residents of the Valley.” He adds, "Its location
downtown is also important and will hopefully stimulate further
redevelopment of the city’s core.”

The Historical Society is currently in a quiet fundraising phase to
secure the dollars needed to rehabilitate and adapt the structure.
When complete, the new History Center will:

Feature interactive, inclusive exhibits that relate to all
people who live in the Mahoning Valley, dedicated education space and
research facilities in a state-of-the-art visitor destination

Improve collections management by consolidating the artifacts
into on-site, climate-controlled storage and conservation facilities

Broaden the Historical Society’s appeal by hosting major
traveling exhibitions, expanded on-site education programs, and
off-site outreach for all interest levels

Offer an exciting new downtown venue for cultural and
community activities, and public and private gatherings for groups of
all sizes

Relieve the pressures currently being placed on the Arms Family Museum, and focus on interpreting this historic house and landscape and exhibiting the Historical Society’s exceptional decorative arts collection.
A national fundraising firm completed a Leadership Planning Study and recommended moving forward with a capital and endowment campaign to
finance the project. An initial 10-month campaign process will
include cultivating and enlisting campaign leaders and volunteers and
the solicitation of gifts from area businesses, corporations,
foundations, and individuals. “Combined with the Historical Society’s valuable collections, this campaign will create a first-class history center for residents of the Mahoning Valley and beyond,” said Board President C. Reid Schmutz in
announcing the plans. “In a sense, the new facility will become a‘family learning center’ where generations of the past will meet generations of the future to learn about the Valley’s heritage.” “This project represents a substantial investment of private funds in downtown Youngstown, and will result in an additional arts and entertainment anchor for our revitalized central business district” said Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams. He further states “I applaud and support the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s commitment to address current operational challenges and to reach out to the broader community by developing a new regional History Center.” Founded in 1875 and incorporated in 1909, The Mahoning Valley Historical Society educates and promotes an interest in the history of the Mahoning Valley by collecting, preserving, and developing material representative of the people who have inhabited the region. For more information about the Historical Society, details about the plans for the Burt Building, or to schedule a tour
Contact: H. William Lawson, Executive Director